Recipe: Banoffee pie

This seems to be a pie unknown to Americans, and it’s really easy to make. The only hassle is that it takes time to do it right. You need a five hour stretch to get really good caramel.

Banoffee pie (pre cream).


  • 2 cans of sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 graham cracker pie crust
  • egg white
  • 2 or 3 fresh bananas
  • 1 cup of heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla essence
  • (optional) 1 tbsp Bailey’s

The day BEFORE you want to eat the pie (or the day of if you have lots of time) cut the labels off the cans of condensed milk and put them unopened into a pan filled with boiling water. Boil for five hours. Do not let the cans touch the bottom of the saucepan, I use a wire grid in the bottom of a casserole pot. You can refrigerate the cans once they’re cooled, and you’ll need to keep checking the water level.

Brush the inside of the pie crust with egg white and bake at 375f for 5 minutes.

Open the cans carefully and spoon out the sticky caramel goodness into the pie crust. Layer with slices of fresh banana. Add the vanilla essence and Bailey’s to some of the cream and whip it until fluffy. Spread cream over the caramel and serve.

We took one of these to Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and it went down well.

Recipe: Coconut Ice

I remember my mother making this when I was a child. It is so sweet!

Coconut Ice.

  • 350g (¾ pound) of sugar, preferably fine baker’s sugar
  • 150ml (¼ pint) milk
  • 125g (4oz) coconut
  • 1 or 2 drops of vanilla essence

Put the sugar and milk in a saucepan on a low heat and stir until the sugar is dissolved. Boil the mixture for 5 minutes. Put this into a basin, and add the coconut and the vanilla. Beat until you have a thick syrupy mess. Spread into a greased tin, I used a foil loaf tin. You can make a second batch, adding some red food colouring, and pour a second layer into the tin. Allow to cool until solid, then cut into small cubes.

I got this recipe from a Farmhouse Kitchen book, which is a compilation of recipes sent in by viewers of the Yorkshire Television show, published in 1982. Some are weird, some very traditionally British, many are family recipes.

The Nutella Experiment

A friend sent me a recipe in the New York Times to make your own chocolate hazelnut paste, aiming to re-create Nutella at home. The first step is toasting the hazelnuts.

How to toast hazelnuts

Heat the oven to 350F. Spread the hazelnuts out in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast in the oven for at least 10 minutes, you may need more time if you’re using a clay baking sheet. Wait until the nuts are golden brown.

Pour the nuts into a clean tea towel and let them sit for a minute. Then gather up the corners of the towel and rub the nuts together to remove the skins.

We used a Pampered Chef baking sheet and some giant Filberts, so it took about 20 minutes before the nuts were toasted. The skins flaked off most of them easily. The nuts went in the blender to be ground into hazelnut butter with a few tablespoons of walnut oil. This is where our ailing twelve year old blender failed. It got partway through blending then the speed dropped drastically and smoke started coming out of the back, so we have a chunky spread with a few whole hazelnuts in. The rest of the mixing happened in the Kitchenaid stand mixer.

The chocolate/butter mix suffered a slight water bath incident, so we lost a little butter getting the water out, but it smelled fantastic. We used a block of Callebaut dark chocolate for our semisweet ingredient. Once the mix was in jars, we put it in the fridge and over a few hours it solidified. It is easier to spread if you extract a few spoonfuls and leave it at room temperature for a half hour, then spread it on a toasted bread product like a crumpet or an English muffin.

We doubled the recipe and ended up with three small jars full. Definitely one to make again! As soon as we have a new blender…

Recipe: Honey-roasted Swede (or rutabaga)

This recipe isn’t mine, we found it several places on the web. It works, and the result is delicious!

  • 1 swede (rutabaga) peeled and cut into ¾ inch cubes
  • 3 tbsp of honey
  • 3 tbsp margarine or butter, melted

Heat the oven to 400F. Mix the honey and melted margarine, put the swede cubes into the mix and make sure they are all covered. Put the cubes into a Pyrex dish, pour some of the remaining liquid in the dish, and put in the oven for 45 minutes. Every ten minutes, take the dish out and turn the cubes. They will turn brown and crispy on the edges when they’re done, and soft inside like a cooked potato.

Swede/rutabaga is almost guaranteed to boggle the grocery store checkout people. I have to point out which vegetable it is, or it’ll get held up with a "what IS this?" or rung up as a turnip.

Recipe: English Flapjacks

English flapjacks are an oat bar made with golden syrup, not a pancake. We found Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup in the grocery store this month (Dierbergs in Creve Coeur, with the other syrups), and set about making proper English flapjacks. It took four batches to get this recipe right.

If you cannot find golden syrup, this page has some ideas of alternatives.

English Flapjacks.


  • 6 oz (1½ sticks) unsalted butter or margarine
  • 6 oz (almost 1½ cups) dark brown sugar
  • 4 tablespoons Tate and Lyle’s Golden Syrup (available in some US grocery stores, can use 3tbsp golden syrup and 1tbsp dark molasses if you want)
  • 10 oz (3¼ cups) quick oats (cheap thin oats work best for flapjacks)
  • 1 teaspoon of sea salt
  • (optional: 3oz of raisins, dates, dried cherries, walnuts, pumpkin seeds, hazelnuts, etc. Chocolate chips will not work, they will melt too fast)

Set the oven for 350F. Melt the margarine, add the golden syrup, salt, and sugar, and mix well until the sugar is melted. Remove from the heat and stir in the oats, making sure all of them are covered. It will look like you have too many oats, just keep stirring until all of them are coated.

Grease an 8 inch square Pyrex dish with cooking spray, add the mixture and squish down with a spatula. Bake for 20 minutes only, even though it won’t look cooked by the end. Leave in the dish to cool and solidify, loosening the edges with a knife, then turn out and slice into squares while still slightly warm. Store in an airtight container.

This makes sixteen squares about two inches across, or eight bars. Ours didn’t last long.

Recipe: Roast Potatoes

We made 2 batches of these over Thanksgiving, and both were very well received. I don’t think this is a familiar recipe to Americans, but it’s a standard part of the British Christmas Dinner menu.

  • Enough potatoes to feed everyone
  • Vegetable oil

Peel the potatoes and chop them into quarters, or smaller depending on the size. Nothing smaller than an inch and a half square. Boil them for 10 minutes ONLY. Drain, and coat in oil, putting them in a plastic bag with the oil works well.

Put the potatoes on a baking sheet with a rim, and pour oil onto the sheet so there’s a thin layer under the taters. Put in the oven for an hour at 400F, or until golden brown and crispy on the outside.

Your oven mileage may vary. The first batch had an hour at 350F turned up to 500F for the last 15 minutes and could have had longer, the second had an hour at 450F and it was a bit too much.

Recipe: Better garlic bread

Hubby came up with this one as an experiment. Roasted garlic is milder and without the aftertaste. You end up with a golden brown garlic cheese loaf.

  • 1 head of garlic
  • some butter
  • grated cheese
  • 1 roll of Pillsbury dough
  • a little milk

Slice the top off the head of garlic so you can see each clove and pour some oil over it. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast for 40 minutes at 375F. Extract the soft garlic cloves and mash them with some butter.

Spread the garlic butter on the dough sheet and sprinkle grated cheese over it. Roll up, seal the ends with milk, and brush milk over the top. Bake on a greased cookie sheet for 20 minutes at 375F.

You need the whole head of garlic, not just one clove. Years ago, Martha made the mistake that a clove of garlic was the whole head and created a toxic salad with multiple heads of garlic, but you do actually need the head of garlic for this recipe.